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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Saddam Hussein Sentenced to Death; Midterm Elections; Reverend Ted Haggard Fired

Aired November 5, 2006 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning. Death by hanging. That is the sentence for ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The verdict was announced just a few hours ago, and we'll have the details live from Baghdad in about two minutes.
Already jubilation on the streets of Najaf and Baghdad when the verdict was read. But in the former dictator's hometown of Tikrit, an estimated 2,000 Saddam loyalists took to the streets to protest.

We'll have more on the Iraqi reaction just ahead.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And still in Iraq, same battle, differing views. The fighting happened yesterday afternoon in a southern suburb of Baghdad. And by all accounts, was a long and bloody fight. However, Iraq's Interior Ministry claims 53 Al Qaeda in Iraq militants were killed, along with four Iraqi national police. But the U.S. military says no insurgents died.

Also, five days into November and 13 U.S. service members have died in Iraq. The most recent deaths happened Saturday. The U.S. military says a Marine died from a non-hostile causes in Anbar Province and a soldier was killed by small arms fire in western Baghdad.

ROESGEN: Evangelical minister Ted Haggard has been fired from the Colorado mega-church he founded. The church oversight board has decided Haggard committed what it calls sexually immoral conduct. Two days ago a Denver man claimed that Haggard paid him for sex. Haggard denies it.

And now let's go to Reynolds Wolf for a quick check on the weather -- Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: OK.

(WEATHER REPORT)

ROESGEN: We do run down the top stories every 15 minutes here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING, with in-depth coverage all morning long. Your next check of the headlines will be coming up at 7:15 Eastern.

From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is November 5th. You know, just two days away from Election Day.

We'll have a lot on that and the Hussein verdict this morning. So good morning. I'm Susan Roesgen, filling in for Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And good morning to you.

Thank you so much for being here, of course. We've got a busy morning. You picked a heck of a morning to be here.

ROESGEN: I did, didn't I?

HOLMES: Well, thanks for being here.

And I'm T.J. Holmes.

It's 7:00 a.m. here in Atlanta, 3:00 p.m. in Baghdad.

Thank you so much for being here.

The verdict, guilty. The sentence, death for former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. The deposed dictator was convicted of crimes against humanity for a brutal crackdown in 1982.

CNN's Michael Ware is live in Baghdad with more on the verdict and now the reaction to it -- Michael.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, T.J., Saddam Hussein, his half-brother, who was the head of the intelligence service in 1982 at the time of the Dujail incidents that these crimes against humanity have come from, and the head of the then revolutionary court have all been found guilty of those crimes against humanity and sentenced to death. Another senior official from Saddam's regime, the former vice president, has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Three local Ba'athist officials from that, area at that time, have been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. And one other lower official was acquitted.

In the fallout from this decision which was made for Saddam Hussein, the guilty verdict, and then the sentence of death imposed at midday, just three hours ago, and then broadcast 20 minutes later on Iraqi TV, started with some celebratory fire here in the capital, Baghdad. But we've since seen tumultuous scenes of celebration and jubilation in other parts of the country that are not currently under an intense security clampdown, as is the capital and two Sunni- dominated provinces.

However, in this capital itself, Baghdad, in the area known as Sadr City, which is not under government control or American military control, but is controlled by a Shia militia, there's been great celebration. As there has been in southern Shia cities, and is almost certainly under way in the Kurdish north.

Both those Iraqi communities, the Shias and the Kurds, were victimized heavily by Saddam's regime. And most people will be seeing this as vindication for all that they've suffered and all that they've endured since the fall of his regime. This has been taken not just as a verdict or an indictment on the events in Dujail in 1982, but for the entirety of Saddam's regime -- T.J.

HOLMES: Well, Michael, how relevant is Saddam Hussein still? How much -- how important, or is he, in the country still as a symbolic figure, since the country is I guess really wrapped up in so many other issues, political issues, security issues, sectarian violence? Is he still relevant?

WARE: Well, T.J., in terms of this war, in terms of the daily grind of violence, in terms of the U.S. casualties, in terms of the monthly slaughter of Iraqis in the hundreds, and indeed thousands, Saddam himself bears little, if any, relevance. I mean, there's a symbolic nature to Saddam in terms of representation of the Sunni minority here in this country. However, in terms of groups who are fighting for Saddam, or are looking for a return of his regime, they are minute, if indeed there are any of them out there in the first place.

This war, both the insurgent war, the war that's become a civil war, and also the confrontations with the Shia militias and the death squads, have nothing to do with Saddam. The true value of this is to show by the Iraqi government a real display of authority. And that to some degree, there will be accountability, not just for the leadership of the old regime, but implicitly for the leadership of any future regime that dares to attempt to commit crimes against humanity.

The idea is, through this trial, to showcase and hopefully instill a sense of the rule of law in this country, albeit with government-backed death squads still roaming and plaguing much of the country. So it is hoped that still, something of at least a broad symbolic nature will be taken from this trial and from this historic verdict -- T.J.

HOLMES: Yes.

Michael Ware for us in Baghdad on another historic day for that country.

Michael, thank you so much.

ROESGEN: Well, of course the guilty verdict comes against Hussein just two days before voters in the U.S. here head to the polls, and Iraq will be a major factor in the midterm elections. In a new "Newsweek" poll, nearly a third of those who were asked say Iraq is the most important election issue, 19 percent say it's the economy, 12 percent say terrorism is the most important issue. And when asked which party should control Congress, 53 percent say the Democrats should take over, 32 percent want the Republicans to stay in control.

The question today is, does this Hussein verdict give the White House a little boost in public perception heading into the elections?

Our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, is near the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, this morning -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Susan, they certainly hope that it does. I mean, shy of announcing that Osama bin Laden has been captured, this is a very significant development for the Bush administration, a very powerful symbol of a statement by the will of the Iraqi people. And essentially, President Bush and U.S. officials today will use this verdict to back up, to validate the president's decision, that despite not finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that the president and this government removed Saddam Hussein from power. They will also use this to show that the Iraqi people -- to make the case that they in fact are in control of their own destiny, that they are able to carry out justice.

Now, in anticipation of this verdict yesterday, Press Secretary Tony Snow was asked about what this would mean, and he said, releasing a statement, saying, "We're talking about an Iraq that can sustain, defend and govern itself, and you see -- we've seen progress when it comes on the military side, not only the Iraqi security forces -- the very important police operation today but also an independent judiciary. These are things that are absolutely vital to building a democracy that will not only sustain itself, but have the faith and support of the populous."

And Susan, that is the case the Bush administration is making. That is what they are working for with the Maliki government, to try to get that government to be powerful enough to sustain, to govern and protect itself -- Susan.

ROESGEN: Well, Suzanne, what about critics, especially in Iraq, even Saddam's chief lawyer, who say that verdict was timed to come out just before the election to help the GOP in this country? What does the White House say about that?

MALVEAUX: Well, Susan, I mean, certainly viewers are going to wake up, some, at least, and be skeptical. Forty-eight hours before the election here, this looks like it's just a little too convenient, the timing of all of this.

Tony Snow was asked about that yesterday. He laughed it off, brushed it off, suggesting that the reporter who asked him the question must have been smoking something. The fact that U.S. officials and the Iraqi government would try to coordinate some sort of effort in announcing this verdict, U.S. officials denying that that is the case.

But bottom line here, Susan, is you can bet that this is good news for the White House, good news for the Bush administration. And they are certainly hoping to use this to their advantage, to the Republicans' advantage, because as you know, the number one issue being Iraq, and the president and the Republicans saying, we're the party that are going to protect you when it comes to issues of national security -- Susan.

ROESGEN: And so, Suzanne, you're in Crawford this morning. Where are you going to be later? Where will the president be campaigning for candidates today?

MALVEAUX: Well, it's going to be very important. Two states he's going to hit later today, Nebraska and Kansas. Look to those races there, key battleground states. The president really in this ultimate campaign blitz in the next 48 hours. Ultimately, he's going to be voting here in Texas -- Crawford, Texas, and then heading back to Washington on Tuesday to find out the results of all of this.

ROESGEN: And you'll be very busy, too, as our White House correspondent. Hope you've got comfortable shoes, Suzanne, to make it through the next two days. Thank you very much.

MALVEAUX: We're going to be doing a lot of running.

ROESGEN: You bet. Reporting for us live there in Crawford. Thank you -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Well, after being in Florida yesterday, former president Bill Clinton will begin an 11th-hour stump for New Jersey senator Robert Menendez today. The two will participate in rallies in Newark and Hackensack. Several recent polls showing Democrat Menendez with a slight lead over Republican challenger Tom Kean in the Senate race.

You can get all-day commercial free campaign coverage beginning tomorrow right from your desktop. CNN's exclusive online service Pipeline will be free for all Internet users. You can go to CNN.com to get plugged into live feeds you're not going to find anywhere else.

Then coming up at 11:00 Eastern this morning, a special "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER" live from New York. Among Wolf's guests, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow.

ROESGEN: Well, we've been talking about Iraq this morning, but is Iran ready to extend an olive branch to the U.S.? That story's ahead.

HOLMES: And from Iraqi leader to condemned man, what impact will Saddam Hussein's death sentence have on the level of violence in Iraq? We'll go in-depth a little bit with that next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't vote this November.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, don't vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do what's right. Don't vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROESGEN: Are these people serious? Have you seen this commercial? Who is telling you not to vote and why not? Coming up at the bottom of the hour, you'll hear from the group behind these unusual ads. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROESGEN: How will the developments in Iraq affect the midterm elections, just two days away? John Roberts is in Baghdad for a special "This Week at War". You can catch it later today at 1:00, 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: "Now in the News," former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein convicted of crimes against humanity. The Iraqi tribunal sentenced Hussein to death by hanging. Two of his seven co-defendants were also sentenced to death.

The verdict set off protests in Hussein's hometown. Celebrations erupted in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, however.

An overture from Iran for possible dialogue with the United States. Today Iran's foreign minister says his country is willing to talk with the U.S. on regional issues such as Iraq.

Stripped of his leadership role as the head of the nation's evangelicals, Ted Haggard has now been fired from the mega-church he founded in Colorado. This after a Denver man came forward with claims Haggard paid him for sex. Haggard denies that claim.

ROESGEN: We run down the top stories every 15 minutes here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING, with in-depth coverage all morning long. Your next check of the headlines is coming up at 7:30 Eastern.

This is judgment day for Saddam Hussein. The verdict is in, guilty as charged, and the sentence is death by hanging.

We want you to hear an exchange now between Hussein and the Iraqi judge in the courtroom during the sentencing. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Stand up. We will read the verdict. Stand up.

Yes?

You listen to the...

SADDAM HUSSEIN, DEPOSED IRAQI DICTATOR (through translator): I can't listen to the verdict.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Stand up.

HUSSEIN (through translator): No, I want to stay -- I want to sit down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Move away from him.

The court has sentenced the defendant Saddam Hussein al-Majid to execution by hanging.

HUSSEIN (through translator): Long live the people! Down with the traitors! God is great! God is great! God is great! God is great!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The punishment is according to the law.

HUSSEIN (through translator): Long live the people! Down with the traitors! Down with the conquerors! Damn you and your court! Damn you!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): War crimes and crimes against humanity, according to Article 15.

HUSSEIN (through translator): You are the enemies of humanity. God is great! God is great! God is great! And damn the losers!

The great Iraqi people, long live the Iraqi people and all those who (INAUDIBLE) and retreated. And I say to them to accept the will of the occupiers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The punishment has been based on Article...

HUSSEIN (through translator): You are servants of the occupiers! You are traitors!

God is great! God is great!

Life for us and death to our enemies! Death to the enemies of the people! This glorious nation, long live the nation. And death to the enemies!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Take him out.

HUSSEIN (through translator): Don't push me, boy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROESGEN: Saddam Hussein, defiant to the end, as the Iraqi judge announced the verdict this morning, guilty, and with a punishment of death by hanging.

We're going to bring in Michael Scharf, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. He's written a book about the trial. He's a specialist in international criminal law.

Michael, did the verdict, or the reaction so far surprise you? Or is this pretty much what you expected?

MICHAEL SCHARF, LAW PROFESSOR, CASE WESTERN UNIVERSITY: Well, Susan, from the two-minute clip you just showed, it looked like it was another day of chaos in the courtroom. But actually, it was a very efficient and orderly day for the one hour that the proceedings took place. Judge Rauf , the presiding judge, did a very good job of choreographing the entire event today, starting with the lower level defendants, reading each of their sentences. They did bring in Saddam. They gave him his chance to vent once again.

And this is televised, as the proceedings have been all along. And it's the judge's way of showing they're giving absolute fairness, bending over backwards to give Saddam his moment, knowing that ultimately they've won, Saddam has been proven guilty, the evidence has ruled in this case.

ROESGEN: What does televising these proceedings do? You see Saddam Hussein waving the Koran, being defiant there. Does this turn him into a martyr for the Iraqi people more than a monster?

SCHARF: Well, every time he's testified during the trial, there has been a spike in the violence. But I think ultimately the success of this tribunal is not going to be determined what happens the next 12 hours in Iraq, but rather what happens in the next 12 years.

If Iraq stays together as a unified country, people will look back and say that this trial, which was dedicated to due process, which allowed Saddam to have his day in court, and which followed the international rules, was one of the elements, along with the creation of the Constitution and the election of the democratically elected national assembly that led to the success of this country. Now, if the country falls apart, then this trial will just be seen as no more than a historic footnote.

ROESGEN: Well, Michael, we have much more to ask you about this.

We're going to take a quick break, and we will be right back with Michael Scharf, talking about the verdict today in the Saddam Hussein case.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROESGEN: And welcome back.

The guilty verdict is in. The punishment is death by hanging. And with us again is Michael Scharf, who's a specialist in international criminal law.

Michael, just before the break you were talking about how the verdict and how the punishment might play out in Iraq's future. But in some ways, this trial was a sideshow, has been a sideshow, compared to the ongoing bloodshed in the streets in Iraq.

Does the verdict really matter in terms of Iraq's future?

SCHARF: Well, some of the things that this trial has done that is positive is it's been the first televised trial in the history of Iraq. Actually, the history of all of the Middle East. Many people in Iraq have never seen the inside of a courtroom. And unlike the courts under Saddam Hussein, this court was governed by the rule of law.

They did give Saddam Hussein a lot of leeway in which he was able to act disruptively and bring chaos to the courtroom. But at the same time, that was a function of due process. And so, this trial will be a model for due process in the other courts of Iraq, and if Iraq is able to survive this period of violence, I think that this episode will be seen as one of the keys to bringing the rule of law back to this troubled country.

ROESGEN: Well, Michael, we know that there is an appeals process. How does the appeal work? And is there any chance the verdict would be overturned?

SCHARF: I think it's very unlikely that this verdict will be overturned. What happens is, there is a nine-person appeal chamber, and within 15 days the defense has to lodge a motion to appeal, and then they have 30 days to submit briefs. And then the appeals process will probably take several months, because the appellate opinion will be very lengthy and consider all the legal issues.

Ultimately, this case was not a factual case. The facts were not in dispute because of all the documents that came into evidence. Even Saddam Hussein admitted the basic facts.

What was in dispute was a legal question, and that is, can someone who is the president of a country, faced with terrorism and insurgency and an assassination attempt, do the things that Saddam Hussein did to the people of Dujail? And the question that the judgment that we'll be reading about in the next couple of days will address is actually very relevant to the United States. It goes to where the line must be drawn in the fight against terrorism, what things a country just cannot do justified by national security.

That question will be litigated on appeal. But I do not think that this case will be overturned.

ROESGEN: All right. We shall see. Thank you so much, Michael Scharf, for helping us sort it all out this morning -- T.J.

SCHARF: It's a pleasure.

HOLMES: Well, stay here. We've got a television ad campaign with a twist here.

ROESGEN: Yes. I like this one.

HOLMES: Yes, it is. Well, probably a lot of you have seen it and it's a little different. But a candidate who admits he wants to avoid a debate on the real issues -- there he is. I love this guy.

ROESGEN: He's telling you not to vote. But why not? We'll talk to the creators of this advertisement and the voters next.

HOLMES: Plus, how can the outcome of Tuesday's elections affect your health?

Here now, Dr. Sanjay Gupta with a preview of today's ""HOUSE CALL"".

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks.

Well, we've got a special hour-long edition of ""HOUSE CALL"" coming up this morning. Starting at 8:00 a.m., we'll be talking about how your vote this Tuesday could directly affect your health. We'll tackle the high cost of prescription drugs, the high cost of health insurance, and our overcrowding in the emergency rooms.

All these issues affecting your health. That's coming up at 8:00 a.m.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: "Now in the News," the verdict is guilty, and the sentence is death by hanging for ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. An Iraqi tribunal handed down the decision just a few hours ago. A shaken but defiant Hussein fired back at the court.

Here's how it unfolded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The court has sentenced the defendant Saddam Hussein al-Majid to execution by hanging.

HUSSEIN (through translator): Long live the people! Down with the traitors!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Also getting a death sentence from the court, Saddam's half-brother and former intelligence chief, Barzan Hassan. Also Awad Bandar, former chief judge of the revolutionary court.

Hussein's former vice president was sentenced to life in prison. Three others got 15 years each.

And there's mixed reaction to Hussein's death sentence. In Baghdad, in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, wide scale celebrations. Meanwhile, in Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, an estimated 2,000 Saddam Hussein supporters took to the streets to protest.

ROESGEN: Former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark was kicked out of the courtroom during the sentencing phase of the trial. Ramsey was one of Saddam's defense attorneys, but the judges asked him to leave, saying he mocked the Iraqi people and the court.

We run down the top stories every 15 minutes here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING, with in-depth coverage all morning long. Your next check of the headlines is coming up now at 7:45 Eastern.

HOLMES: Well, hello again. And welcome back. As you can see, we've got a pretty busy morning here. An historic morning, really, in Iraq with the Saddam Hussein trial.

But good morning to you. Thank you for being here.

I'm T.J. Holmes.

ROESGEN: And the elections, of course, coming up in two days.

HOLMES: Oh yes.

ROESGEN: I'm Susan Roesgen, today filling in for Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: Well, of course two days left before the crucial midterm election. And while polls show Democratic gains, some Republicans, including the president, are optimistic.

CNN political editor Mark Preston joins us now for a breakdown of what's ahead on Tuesday.

Good morning to you, Mark.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Hey, good morning.

HOLMES: All right.

Tell me, the president, we saw him, what, just a couple of weeks ago talking about the Democrats measuring for drapes and ready to move in. Does -- are Democrats -- is that a pretty safe move to be measuring for the drapes? Are they still in pretty good shape right now, two days out?

PRESTON: Well, you know, I think it depends what exactly you're talking about. I think in the House of Representatives, clearly the Democrats have a really good shot of taking back the majority. This would be the first time since House Democrats were in the majority since Republicans took over in the 1994 Republican revolution.

In the Senate, I think it's more of an uphill battle. Democrats need to take back six seats. And those are -- three of those seats look like Democrats can actually take those back. However, three more, you know, is certainly we'll be watching on Tuesday night.

HOLMES: Are you seeing anything out there that makes you think, wait a minute, these Republicans, they're pretty good at organizing, and they may pull off some kind of a surprise on Election Day and defy every expectation that's kind of out there?

PRESTON: Well, there's no question that Republicans have this great turn out the vote operation, something that they have certainly developed over the past few years. In fact, I was talking to an RNC official yesterday. This official tells me that, you know, over the past few years, that they have contacted 24 million people to try to urge them to get out to vote, try to get them in contact, try to get them energized. They also suggested that they'll talk to, you know, a couple million more before Tuesday. However, you talk to the Democrats, and the Democratic official tells me that, you know, certainly former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who's the chairman of the DNC, has really focused on this as well. They've cleaned up voter lists, tried to identify those people that they can get to the polls.

So certainly turnout is going to be the key on Tuesday.

HOLMES: And what happened to -- well, we had the John Kerry comments just a few days back. There was the Mark Foley scandal, which was huge for a while. And then, of course, even Haggard.

People say these things sprinkled in there would affect the election one way or another. Are you seeing that, or is it still just all about Iraq?

PRESTON: You know, I think the John Kerry thing was very interesting last week. It certainly caused a fervor for certainly a few days. I don't think that the John Kerry gaffe, as it is now called, is really going to have any effect on Tuesday's election.

I think the Haggard situation, I don't think that -- the Haggard situation, I don't think, is certainly going to depress the conservative evangelical vote. I do believe that if Republicans are successful in getting the evangelical vote out, it is certainly going to help them in the Senate races. I do believe that Republicans, though, still have an uphill battle to hold the majority in the House.

HOLMES: All right. Well, maybe we can -- we'll be able to stop talking about it and stop speculating and we'll know on Tuesday.

Mark Preston, thank you so much for hanging out. And as always, our CNN political editor. We'll see you soon.

And CNN's primetime coverage of Election Day begins at 7:00 Eastern on Tuesday night. Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Paula Zahn, Lou Dobbs lead the best political squad on television as your votes are counted. Our coverage continues at midnight.

Then a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" from Los Angeles. You'll hear from the winners and the losers, all across the country.

ROESGEN: Well, as T.J. and Mark just mentioned, one of America's most influential evangelicals, a man who seemed to have a connection to god and a phone line to the White House, the Reverend Ted Haggard, is now a man who's lost his New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

CNN's Sean Callebs is there this morning -- Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Susan.

This is somebody who a matter of days ago, Ted Haggard, simply at the pinnacle of his profession. But in a matter of 72 hours, resigned as head of the National Association of Evangelicals, and last night was removed as pastor from the New Life Church here in Colorado Springs that he first founded back in 1985.

Now, in a matter of hours, we are going to hear a letter, a letter of explanation and apology. That's how it's being characterized from Haggard after being accused of having a three-year sexual relationship with a former male prostitute in Denver, as well as purchasing crystal meth.

Now, this is what the oversight board had to say after they determined that he had moral failings. I want to read you a couple of lines from the six-paragraph statement.

It says, "Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct." It goes on to say that "We have decided that the most positive and productive direction for our church is his dismissal and removal."

This has simply been an earthshaking allegation, earthshaking in a matter of days for the evangelical movement. We had a chance last night to speak with an associate pastor who has worked with Ted Haggard, someone he considered a mentor for the past 10 years.

This is his reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROB BRENDLE, ASSOCIATE PASTOR, NEW LIFE CHURCH: It's sad and disappointing to me that Pastor Ted has participated in the indiscretions to which he's confessed, and the process of the last three days, and the confusion with his statements. I understand, even as I am saddened by them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CALLEBS: And this -- the timing was no accident. Mike Jones, the former male prostitute, said he chose this time to come out because, Susan, it is right before Tuesday's midterm election. We heard Mark Preston talk about, will it have an affect on the polls? We'll have to wait and see -- Susan.

ROESGEN: OK, Sean. We know it's going to be a busy morning for you, certainly a busy morning for all of us here at CNN. We'll wait and see what's in that letter when you get it. Thanks so much.

Sean Callebs reporting live for us in Colorado Springs.

We'll see you later, Sean.

Well, whatever happens Tuesday at the polls could have a direct impact on what's in your medicine cabinet.

HOLMES: Yes, especially if you take prescription drugs.

Coming up at the top of the hour, you won't want to miss a special 60-minute edition of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's "HOUSE CALL". We'll show you how your vote may affect your health. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROESGEN: And we have new video this morning, new video defying a government order, imposing a curfew after the verdict in the Saddam Hussein trial. These are protesters in Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

As you can see, they're waving posters of Saddam. We're told that some have been firing guns into the air. An estimate on the crowd is about 2,000, though it doesn't appear to be that many in this video.

People, again, protesting the guilty verdict this morning and the punishment of death by hanging for Saddam Hussein. That is the sentence for the ousted Iraqi leader. He was convicted of crimes against humanity for the brutal 1982 crackdown in Dujail --148 people there were killed.

And just five days into November, already 13 American troops have died in Iraq. The most recent deaths happened Saturday. The U.S. military says a Marine died from non-hostile causes in Anbar Province and a soldier was killed by small arms fire in western Baghdad.

We run down the top stories every 15 minutes here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING, with in-depth coverage, as you know, all morning long. Your next check of the headlines will be coming up at the top of the hour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't vote this November.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, don't vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do what's right. Don't vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really. Don't vote, America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't vote until you know where the candidates stand on the issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where they stand on retirement savings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Healthcare reform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Social Security.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Use your head, as well as your heart, and don't vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Until you know exactly how the candidates are going to vote on the issues. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to dontvote.com.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Don't vote, not something you'd normally hear this time of year, you know, election time. But it's a campaign driven by the AARP.

They're not really telling you not to vote. They just want you to be informed about the issues and the candidates before you head to the polls.

And joining us this morning is David Sloan, the director of advocacy for the AARP. Also, Carole Thorton, an undecided voter from Columbus, Ohio. And another undecided voter, Julian Mark, from Connecticut.

Good morning to you all. Thanks for being here.

I'm going to start with you two undecided voters. As you know, you've only got a couple days left here, so what in the world are you all waiting on?

I'll start with you, Carol. You go.

CAROLE THORTON, UNDECIDED VOTER: Well, I'm just waiting to hear them say something positive to me. I want to know where they stand on items. I'm hearing nothing positive. They're not telling me anything except mudslinging against other people.

HOLMES: Well, I guess if you're waiting to hear something positive, a lot of people might say you might be waiting for a long time in this campaign.

Julian, is that the same with you? Are you tired of all the -- I guess the bickering and the name calling and the mudslinging?

JULIAN MARK, UNDECIDED VOTER: Well, I have not needed to listen to whatever the political and the -- in this campaign has to say. From my own knowledge, and following carefully over the number of years what goes on in our state, I've kind of finally made a decision as to how I'm going to vote.

HOLMES: Does it usually take you -- sir, does it take you this long? And I guess do you see other people, other people around you, just colleagues, friends, family, not take as much effort and time to learn the issues as you yourself say you have?

MARK: I think that's true. And when -- if and when you want me to express myself as to why I've come to this decision, and why it took me longer than just making a snap decision, I'll be glad to tell you.

HOLMES: Well, go right ahead then.

MARK: OK, fine. All right. When Ned Lamont came to view, I thought him to be an extremely bright, wonderful young man. And when I think about him now being the senator from Connecticut, versus Joe Lieberman as a senator from Connecticut, I thought that this is not the time for us to have a terribly inexperienced senator now in place in Washington. Ned Lamont has had no political experience and has never been elected to any significant office.

HOLMES: All right. Well, it sounds like you've got a good list of ideas there.

And Carol, were you that -- are you being, I guess, as well that meticulous and careful with your -- your decisions? Are you doing a lot of research as well? Or are you really just waiting for one of these, I guess almost personalities and a nice guy to jump out at you?

THORTON: Well, they all seem to be nice guys. I'm doing some research to see how they're -- I've had to go on the computer to do it because they're not telling me as to where they stand on issues, how they voted on issues. And they're not bringing out the important things, important to me, like the immigration and health issues that seem to have fallen by the wayside this election.

Unlike Julian, I do have experienced people in there to choose between. And that's probably the more difficult, because I do have two experienced people in the main offices I'm looking at. But I'm just about zoned into where I want to be based on their past history and based on advocacy groups and things like that, as to where they stand in congressional voting with those two groups.

HOLMES: And Carol, is there any chance that you -- right quickly, before I let you two go -- and we're going to get to David Sloan with the AARP -- any chance you won't know who you're voting for until you walk into that booth?

THORTON: In some instances, yes. It's just about that way every time. But some instances, yes, I won't know for sure until I go in there. And other ones, I know pretty much who I'm going to vote for.

HOLMES: All right. I want to bring in David Sloan now with the AARP.

And sir, one ad that has got a lot of people's attention around here, certainly got mine, because I sing along every time I see this commercial, is the one in particular with the fake candidate out there. And people have probably seen it, but we're going to show it to them now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (SINGING): I'm handsome, I'm funny, I tell a good joke. I'll hug you, I'll kiss you, I don't even smoke. My wife is impeccable, my past quite respectable.

Vote for me assuredly, but don't ask about Social Security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: It gets to a part -- there it is. "Come have some pie with me." Don't you love it?

Well, it's quite a creative way to go about it, but do you really think it's a better option for people just to not be involved in the process at all and don't vote if they're not that informed? Or do people still -- the lessons should be, you should go vote one way or another?

DAVID SLOAN, DIRECTOR OF ADVOCACY, AARP: T.J., I think voting is a serious responsibility on the part of all Americans. And it's -- it's really imperative to understand where candidates stand on the issues.

The whole point of the dontvote.com campaign is to -- is to convince people that, you know, they need to get educated on the issues. It's not enough to see a smiling candidate kissing babies and riding tractors and all of those things.

HOLMES: Well, how educated is educated to you? How informed do you need to be, would you say?

SLOAN: Well, I think if you care about things like Social Security and Medicare, you would want to go to our dontvote.com Web site and see where the candidates stand on these issues. They give us the opportunity in their own words to tell us where they stand on those issues. So I think it's -- it's quite importantly, really.

HOLMES: And one more thing here. You say don't just vote the personalities. But why is it not all right?

We just heard from Carol there. You might know a little something about their issues, but sometimes maybe it's all right to say, I like that guy, I trust that guy, and he just works for me.

SLOAN: Well, a lot of things go into people's decisions about how they vote. But our view is that, you know, once you're voting for somebody and they get into office, it's a serious obligation on their part to represent your interests. And you would want to do a little bit of research to understand where those people stand on the issues, I think, before you gave them that opportunity.

HOLMES: All right. Well, it's a heck of an ad. And we're all singing along here when we see that ad playing with that fake candidate there.

But again, David Sloan with the AARP, two undecided voters as well, one from Ohio and one from Connecticut, Julian Mark and Carole Thorton.

I appreciate you all spending some time with us. And good luck in the next couple of days making up your minds as well.

Thank you all so much.

SLOAN: Thank you, T.J.

HOLMES: And we're going to talk more about Tuesday's election at 11:00 Eastern this morning. You don't want to miss a special "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER" live from New York. And among Wolf's guest, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow.

Stick around. We're going to be right back here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROESGEN: For the next couple of days it's going to be all politics all the time now online.

HOLMES: Forty-eight hours now, polls are going to be opening in some states.

Nicole, what's going on?

NICOLE LAPIN, CNN PIPELINE ANCHOR: Well, if you procrastinated a little bit -- have you?

HOLMES: No, of course not.

LAPIN: No. No, no, no.

HOLMES: We're all over it.

LAPIN: Well, you can keep up to date online, because CNN.com is your campaign headquarters online. And with midterm elections just two days away right now, you can log on to our special report, "America Votes" for the very latest.

So, from the main page you can navigate through the various tabs to track live results in the House, in the Senate, and in gubernatorial races. CNN.com will also track key races, display vote counts and the percentage of votes each candidate gets, of course, and the precincts that have been counted thus far.

If you're voting on a ballot measure -- I know, T.J., you're doing that, right? We're going to have those results as well state by state. All the propositions, all the amendments, like Arizona's Prop 103, for example, which would make English the official language in the state.

And tomorrow, don't forget, CNN Pipeline is going to be free for the entire day. So here's your big chance.

HOLMES: It's about time, yes.

LAPIN: I know.

HOLMES: I've been waiting on this, free Pipeline.

ROESGEN: Oh, come on. You can get Pipeline here, T.J. I'm sure we can arrange it for you. But it is good for viewers, Nicole, to see this as it happens, because we've seen this political situation change minute by minute.

HOLMES: Yes.

LAPIN: Absolutely. And you can catch up on the hot political stories, get the issues, watch those controversial television ads all before you head to the polls coming up pretty soon.

So you can start by going to CNN.com/americavotes. And it's all there for you.

ROESGEN: That will be great. You can really keep your finger on the pulse of what's happening.

LAPIN: Absolutely. Step by step, live.

HOLMES: Get me hooked up with Pipeline, because I haven't figured it out.

ROESGEN: I'm sure I can do it.

LAPIN: I'll hook you up, T.J. All right.

ROESGEN: Thanks, Nicole.

HOLMES: Thanks, Nicole.

Well, if you take prescription drugs, then you should really care about what happens this Tuesday.

ROESGEN: Coming up next in a special 60-minute edition of "HOUSE CALL," Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains the politics behind the price you pay for prescription drugs.

HOLMES: And Iraqi reaction to Saddam Hussein's death sentence. We'll have live reports from Baghdad throughout the morning.

I'm T.J. Holmes.

ROESGEN: And I'm Susan Roesgen.

And you are watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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